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Schooldays in the Yangshuo Mountains

semi-overcast 18 °C

Today there is very little difference between our lives and the lives of most Chinese. Many live in comfortable modern houses and apartments; they drive Fords, BMWs and Audis on excellent multi-lane highways, (with lots of speed cameras); they travel 1st class on super high speed trains; their stores are stocked with everything that we would expect at home, (somethings at astronomical prices); and they are very keen to learn about the world. Perhaps the most striking difference is in the way that we eat. Eating in China is always a communal affair so all dishes are meant to be shared...
Everything is cooked fresh when ordered and it comes to the table when it is ready So, while you may think that you are going to start with a soup or an appetizer, if the main course vegetables happen to be the fastest to cook that is what will appear on the table first. These might be followed 5 minutes later by some chicken or pork and, just as this is getting completely cold, with some rice or noodles. Now, just as you are beginning to think that the soup has been forgotten it will turn up. If you happen to get your food hot it is more by luck than judgment.

We are currently staying with our 'family' at the Tea Cozy hotel where we have stayed before, but our host, Curry Chen, is opening a new boutique resort hotel in the mountains nearby and James offered to train his staff in the ways of the Western world so that they can help foreigners. Here's James with thirteen of his 'students' ...
And here they are doing practicals...
But, as Anna so rightly said to Yul Brynner in 'The King and I' “It's a very ancient saying, but a true an honest thought, that if you become a teacher by your pupils you'll be taught.”
And so it is that here in the countryside by the Yulong River in Guangxi province we are both teachers and students. Everyday we teach them English and French and the weird ways of westerners and they teach us Chinese customs and dumpling making. Here is Erica, the hostess of the Mountain Nest Hotel in the next village, teaching us to make Chinese pork dumplings from scratch...
We soon got the hang of it and made enough dumplings for all of us and for many of the hotel's guests including a young family from Mumbai...
Throughout this trip we have been hot on the trail of tea – following it back from the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka to the mountains of Yunnan and Sichuan on the Tibetan border to here in Guangxi Province where the local tea is made from the sweetly scented flowers of the Osmanthus tree. Tea originated in China thousands of years ago when a traditional doctor discovered the restorative effects of the dew dripping from the leaves of the camellia trees in the Yunnan mountains. Nowadays, tea is made from many different leaves, fruits and flowers, and here at the Tea Cozy Hotel on the banks of the Yulong River Amy is teaching us the rituals surrounding the making and drinking of Chinese tea...
Here's Amy showing us the proper way to drink chrysanthemum tea...

The weather has not been overly kind to us for the past week or so, but the skies are clearing and we are off to visit the mountains. See you soon.

Posted by Hawkson 21:45 Archived in China

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What a rich experience for everyone. The best of sharing cultures and friendship. Thank you for sharing this heart warming experience.

by Sue Fitzwilson

First in line to try out your dumpling achievements!

See you in a couple of weeks (or less).

by Joyce

Never a dull moment with you, regardless where you are; including Gabriola. What a rich experience it is, not just for all of you but also for me, following you.. keep on trekking.


by Gottfried Mitteregger

It's nice!

by Anna

I think the Chinese people are stronger and more resilient than I.

by Janet

I'm second in line after Joyce to sample the dumplings.

by R and B

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